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Scientists Find Potential Weapon Against Tuberculosis Infection

Date:
December 14, 2006
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
The discovery of a unique copper-repressing protein in the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in humans may pave the way toward new strategies for halting tuberculosis infection.
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The discovery of a unique copper-repressing protein in the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in humans may pave the way toward new strategies for halting tuberculosis infection.

Scientists have known that when macrophages - the host's immune cells - swallow an invading bacterium, they dump excessive amounts of copper onto the invader in an effort to kill it. While all cells need copper to function, too much of the metal ion causes cell death.

"But the invaders fight back with their own defense," says Adel Talaat, a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "They block the excess copper."

In a paper published in the January 2007 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, Talaat and colleagues from Texas A&M University and University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada describe a unique protein repressor that they have identified as the mechanism used by invading bacterium cells to fight off the host's copper attack.

Prior to the discovery of this repressor protein, scientists did not know exactly how invading bacterium protected themselves from copper ions used by the body as a defense against infection.

"With this discovery, we can now pursue ways to deactivate the repressor protein," says Talaat. "Our goal is to disable the tuberculosis bacterium from fighting back against the host body's defense mechanisms, so that we can stop tuberculosis."


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Scientists Find Potential Weapon Against Tuberculosis Infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061214084423.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (2006, December 14). Scientists Find Potential Weapon Against Tuberculosis Infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061214084423.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Scientists Find Potential Weapon Against Tuberculosis Infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061214084423.htm (accessed September 3, 2015).

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